New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday proposed a raft of environmental initiatives in hisState of the State speech, including a $1.5 billion solar program, a $1 billion Green Bank and the installation of 3,000 electric vehicle-charging stations.
“The economy of tomorrow is the clean tech economy,” Cuomo said in his address. “We all know it – it’s a foot race and whatever state, whatever region gets there first wins the prize and we want it to be New York.”
Cuomo’s NY-Sun program would spend $150 million annually for 10 years to spur solar installations, from residential rooftops to ground-mounted power plants, as well as efforts to reduce the bureaucratic obstacles and other costs of going solar.
His $1 billion Green Bank would leverage public funds to attract private capital to promote energy efficiency and green technologies.
“The NY Green Bank would overcome a number of obstacles and uncertainties in the clean energy sector, including unstable federal funding and policy, uncoordinated action and disparate one-time subsidies at the state level, a lack of appropriate financial instruments, and apprehension in the investor community,” according to the Cuomo proposal. “The lowering of other barriers would enable clean energy markets to function more fluidly, connecting green projects with investors and capital.”
A $50 million Charge NY plan would install 3,000 charging stations throughout New York over the next five years.
Vote Solar, a San Francisco-based advocacy group, has been lobbying for an expanded New York solar program and welcomed the Cuomo initiative.
“I think Cuomo’s motivation is more along the lines of looking Sandy in the eye, and reacting as a responsible civil servant and leader: time to take real steps to fight climate change,” Adam Browning, Vote Solar’s executive director of Vote Solar, said in an e-mail.
“We’ve been trying to make the point that New York’s solar programs need think about achieving a goal – market transformation – rather than just spending money,” he added. “Yesterday’s announcement indicates that the administration is getting serious about going somewhere, rather than checking a solar box.”
The California Public Utilities Commission, meanwhile, said Thursday that the Golden State has now installed 1,000 megawatts of rooftop photovoltaic panels under the $2.2 billion California Solar Initiative, which aims to generate 1,940 megawatts of solar electricity by the end of 2016. At peak output that’s the equivalent of a two large nuclear power plants.
California this year also will begin rolling out a $100 million program to install electric car charging stations statewide.
“If he wants to take the green lead from California, he’s got his work cut out for him.” Browning said of Cuomo. “But that’s the kind of contest we’d like to see.”